Are Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina women’s tennis’ big three?
Former world No 1 Chris Evert believes that the brewing rivalry between Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina will be akin to the one between the so-called big three.
Evert feels that these three women have the potential to elevate and electrify the sport with terrific matches.
She put aside fears for the women’s game after the retirements of Ash Barty and Serena Williams.
“What I’m excited about as we get into talking about the women’s game is that there are three players now that could be the Federer, Nadal and Djokovic of women’s tennis, and we know who they are: Iga, Aryna and Elena,” Evert told Eurosport.
“I see a rivalry with those three that could be very interesting. We thought when Serena retired, ‘oh, my gosh, women’s tennis is in trouble, and where’s the next champion going to come from?’
“I think we’re looking at where the next champion is going to come from – if not three great champions.”
Evert noted the elusive quality of Rybakina, which makes her a captivating figure for many fans.
“I don’t think her personality was one that she took advantage of after winning Wimbledon to the extent that other players have in the past with appearances and magazine covers and endorsements and being on talk shows.
“I think she lives a very quiet life and she is very happy that way. She doesn’t want to get out of her bubble. That’s her prerogative.
“With her personality, I think that she doesn’t demand attention, and that is why you don’t see her out there like you saw maybe Emma Raducanu or you saw other players after they have won majors.”
Evert backed Sabalenka to win more Grand Slams after a breakthrough win at the Australian Open.
“I think that Aryna got the monkey off her back, so to speak, when she won the Australian Open because she came so close so many times – not only to win a major but also against top players.
“Having the yips with her serve last year, she had a lot of disappointments in her career up until the Australian Open. I think that gave her more confidence.
“She knows what she has worked on, which is not getting down on herself and resetting quickly after missing a few balls. After re-examining her serve and hiring a special serving coach to really look at it and get back to basics, I think she has more confidence, in a calm way, and she is great.
“The way she stuck her tongue out during the presentation, she is a great personality and she is a wonderful athlete. She is athletic, she is strong, she is big, she is muscular, she is tough, and she is great for the women’s game.
“Women look up to her and go, ‘I want to be like that’. She has got the personality to top it off, so I’m really happy.
“Before some of the tournaments, she has been practising at the Evert Academy with her coach, and I see the work that she puts in. That is all I’m going to say. She has a lot of talent, but she puts in the hours as well.”
Swiatek has been applying her mind to finding a way to beat Rybakina, who has had her number recently.
However, the smart money is to never write off Swiatek, who just keeps coming back better and better.
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